Keeping a club operating at SANFL level is a difficult task. Good management, on-field success, increasing patronage and many other things are necessary to generate the funds to keep the doors open, even in the best of times.
West Adelaide is a club with a long and proud history. Some of the greats of both SANFL and AFL history have worn the red and black of the Bloods. Magarey Medallists, 3 Brownlow Medallists, All-Australians and greats of the game have all made West Adelaide their home.
However, it’s well known that the Club faced a severe financial crisis just a few years ago. In such a dire situation, trading out of the difficulties wasn’t a realistic option. Selling our clubrooms, the result of decades of work by so many over so many years, loomed as the only solution. That solution, though, would merely buy time, before an inevitable slow march of day-to-day survival commenced.
the Club Board at the time searched for a different solution, but there seemed to be no realistic way to save the clubrooms, or indeed, the club itself in the long-term.
What West Adelaide does have, though, are people who love their football club. People who have a passion for what it is, a family club and a second home for many. And fortunately, we have people with skills across a wide range of business.
From that, the Wolfpack evolved. The Board, with much assistance from other West Adelaide people, decided that rather than sell the clubrooms, the income-producing lease of the rooms from the West Adelaide Football Club to the West Adelaide Footballers’ Club (the commercial operations) would be made available to any interested parties. This was done with the co-operation of the Board and a number of passionate supporters, many of whom were willing to invest, for a reasonable return, in this venture.
And so the Westies’ Wolfpack was born. The club’s bank loan of about a million dollars was transferred from the Football Club to the Wolfpack. At the same the Wolfpack deposited one million dollars into the Club’s bank account, enabling major accumulated taxation, superannuation and other debts to be paid. The Club’s monthly payments for bank interest and capital became a monthly rental payment to the Wolfpack from the Club’s SANFL funding.
Suddenly, the West Adelaide Football Club faced a solid financial future. Much work remained to be done. Profitability was essential, otherwise even this rescue mission would just buy time. Cash was still tight on a day-to-day basis, but a clear path to future sustainability was there with good management.
The Board, under President Richard Sykes, Finance Director Dean Withers and all other members, had engineered a unique solution to our financial crisis. All it needed was for the people to take the chance of investing, with no guarantee for their capital, except the faith in the club and its future.
And where are we now? Expenditure has been drastically cut, revenue is recovering and we are on track to soon delivering our first cash profit for approximately ten years, with larger profits being budgeted for. There’s still much work to be done, but that immediate crisis has been consigned to the past.
The Wolfpack, however, then looked further to the future. Led by Troy Abbott, they set about the task of ‘future-proofing’ our club, to ensure the West Adelaide Football Club would survive any future crises. Work on that is continuing, but the Wolfpack is now integral to our day-to-day finance management and has assisted the club with funds for specific projects in recent times.
But just who are the people who make up the Wolfpack? Like all of us, they are passionate Westies’ people and combine that with business acumen and sound management. Our Club owes a huge debt of gratitude to them and we are excited about our continuing relationship.
Richard Sykes: WAFC President 4 years 2013-16, WAFC Board Member 8 years 2009-2016, WAFC Centre of Excellence Sponsor 11 years 2007-2017
Troy Abbott: WAFC Board Member 2017, WAFC Westonians Committee 7 years 2011-2017, WAFC Westonians Treasurer 5 years 2012-2016, Founding member & Treasurer WAFC History Group since 2014, WAFC Sponsor 3 years 2015-2020
Murray Forbes: WAFC Major Sponsor – Oval Naming Rights – City Mazda Stadium 10 years 2008-2017, WAFC Sponsor 13 years 2005-2017
Paul Sperling: WAFC Life Member 2014, WAFC President 6 years 2007-2012, Chairman 1989-92, WAFC Board Member 16 years, 1988-92 & 2007-17, WAFC League Director 10 years, 2008-17, WAFC Sponsor 30 years, WAFC U17’s & U19’s 1968-70
Tony Davidson: WAFC Westonian President 2 years 2005-06, WAFC Westonian Committee 15 years 2003-17
Robert Day: WAFC Life Member 1969 WAFC Board Member 4 years 2008-11 WAFC Player 1961-70, WAFC B&F 1965, 1966, 1970, WAFC Caption 1970, WAFC Vice Captain 1963-1969, WAFC 1979 League Runner, WAFC Past Player Committee 8 years 2010-17
Graeme Barton: WAFC Vice President 4 years 2014-17, WAFC Board Member 10 years 2008-17, WAFC Football Committee 7 years 2011-17, WAFC Westonians President 10 years 2008-17, WAFC History Group Founding Member & President 3 years 2014-16, Vice President 2017, WAFC Proxy League Director 3 years 2015-17
Dean Withers: WAFC Board Member 3 years 2013-14, 2017, WAFC Sponsor 2 years 2016-17